2 months ago by Tim Bonville-Ginn

The French Dispatch: stage one

The 2023 Tour de France Femmes explodes into life

The second edition of the Tour de France Femmes began with an opening stage starting and finishing in the city of Clermont-Ferrand. It was an extremely tough finale with Audrey Cordon-Ragot our first finisher.

A huge crowd gathered at the start of the day in the Place de Jaude to see some of the biggest names in the sport as the sunshine blazed down. Audrey received a gigantic cheer as she was presented to her French fans. Bien sur. 

It was a rapid start and, as the heat built throughout the day, it just got faster and faster until we hit the only categorized climb, the Cote de Durtol. The race was already in bits before the winning move went. Audrey dug deep, fought hard, and narrowly missed the front group.


We knew that today, with the yellow jersey on the line, a breakaway would never make it. The hope was to have things all together to try and go for a sprint with Marjolein van ‘t Geloof, but some teams had other ideas. Riders were already being shelled on the short sharp kickers before the intermediate sprint in Saint-Hippolyte. As the mercury climbed, so did the pressure.

The race shot through Volvic, home of the bottled water brand, and twisted and turned its way through the tricky French villages with plenty of town cobbles and road furniture to add to the stress.

It was the gradients that made the peloton disintegrate into smaller and smaller groups. Constant up and down on steep slopes that sap the energy from the legs.

Over the top of the Durtol there were just around eight riders chasing the solo leader when there were closer to 30 riders in the bunch as they entered the 1.7km climb. After that it was a rollercoaster descent back into the city and a 500m uphill drag to the line, with Lotte Kopecky taking the first yellow jersey of the race.

Tomorrow we start once again in beautiful Clermont-Ferrand, but this time head 151.7km to the historic town of Mauriac, with six categorized climbs along the way.